10TH ANNIVERSARY OF A UK CULT CLASSIC
TEN YEARS ON FROM THE 'KILLER ALBUM', THE RUTHLESS RAP ASSASSINS TRIBUTE SITE, 'THE NORTH HULME SOUND', IS LAUNCHED WITH AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH KERMIT, WHO TALKS ABOUT HIS TIME WITH THE ASSASSINS, HIS CURRENT COLLABORATIONS WITH BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE, TEAMING UP WITH SHAUN RYDER, UK RAP, HIS NEW PROJECT - BIG DOG, THE MILLENNIUM BUG, AND EARTHA KITT!
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THE NORTH HULME SOUND:
In the summer of 1990, when Manchester was Madchester and the Mondays and the Roses monopolised the front pages of the nation's music press, the Ruthless Rap Assassins broke the indie-dance mould when EMI released their debut LP, 'Killer Album', 14 tracks linked into a continuous whole via segueways, its content reflecting the black British experience in a unique and often poignant way. Their 'North Hulme' sound, packed full of depth, humour, and social comment, marked the Rap Assassins out as the first UK crew to truly express their British identity, rather than simply imitate what was coming out of the US, and the 'Killer' would redefine UK rap. The diversity of the samples they used on their recordings reflected the many influences they'd grown up with, creating a soundscape which included elements of rock, reggae, pop, jazz and even rock n roll, along with the more orthodox hip hop flavours of the time. Their sleeve artwork also avoided the rap norm, providing the break for a young graphic designer, Brian Cannon, who would go on to work extensively with Oasis and The Verve, amongst many others. As one Manchester based journalist later reflected, 'The Assassins were more than a mere stab at fame, and their small body of work, hugely influential in Manchester at the time, haunts the grooves of a hundred subsequent acts. For a while, if only in this locality, they seemed to be the hippest thing in the world'
On its release the 'Killer Album' met with massive national music press acclaim (click here for a selection of press quotes), as did 'And It Wasn't A Dream', which was issued as a single and widely tipped for chart success. However, radio didn't agree with the press, they found the Assassins too radical for the times, 'too confrontational', all this despite the fact that the single's heartfelt insight into the trials and tribulations of their parents' generation was more cathartic than confrontation. The acknowledgement of having written the 'best British rap lyric ever' was no substitute for the lack of daytime radio support, the soulless rap of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice (as fate would have it, also released by EMI in the UK!) hogging all the airtime. Only the specialist DJ's got behind 'And It Wasn't A Dream', and not surprisingly the record showed for just one week on the chart, at 75, the lowest possible position. Without a hit single to promote the album, the 'Killer' failed to make its impact beyond the underground.
A decade on, with the infamous Hulme crescents bulldozed years ago, the Assassins are long gone but not forgotten, only last year Manchester's City Life magazine included the 'Killer' in it's top 3 all-time Manc LP's. The album is now remembered on a website that was set up in tribute to the Assassins and their North Hulme Sound, and, apart from Kermit's interview, the pages include lyrics, reviews, images, articles and a full discography. There's also an extensive downloads section, with a wide selection of tracks in MP3 format (including early demos and rarities, and remixes by Norman Cook and Mase of De La Soul).
Interviews with all 3 Assassins will appear throughout the summer.
Visit the site at http://www.rapassassins.f9.co.uk/
IMAGES FOR INTERNET USE ARE AVAILABLE DIRECT FROM THE SITE, CLICK HERE
Mark Balsom constructed 'The North Hulme Sound' website.